Classroom Confidential: The 12 Secrets of Great Teachers.
Publication Type:Web Article
Year of Publication:2004
Carol Hill, a South Carolina teacher, describes how Schmidt present a scenario of poor teaching in each chapter, then presents solutions such as multiple intelligences, inquiry instruction, etc., while recommending many primary sources.
Citation: Schmidt, L. (2004). Classroom confidential: The 12 secrets of great teachers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
By Laurel Schmidt
2004 (280 pp./paperback)
$22.00 ($19.50 at Heinemann website)
Reviewed by Carol Hill
Pendleton High School
Pendleton, South Carolina
In reading this book, be prepared for a significant degree of negative tone at the start of each chapter. The arrangement of the chapters is such that Schmidt invents a negative scenario containing some combination of uninspired curriculum, an uninspiring classroom teacher and/or unengaged students. Once she has done this, she then presents, "the answer" to the problem in one of the "secrets" she has learned over the years. Schmidt gives basic background explanation and classroom applications relevant to the following "secrets":
• multiple intelligences
• inquiry instruction
• classroom cultures
• constructivist learning
• cultural sensitivity
• the writing process
• self-actualization and social reconstructionism curriculums
• using arts in instruction
• teacher professional development opportunities like National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
I would definitely agree that all teachers should know about these. If they do not, then this book might provide a good introduction to some. Schmidt acknowledges the introductory nature of her book and repeatedly references and recommends more primary sources regarding these complex issues.
I would agree that any educator who has not read Lisa Delpit's Other People's Children or Rafe Esquith's There Are No Shortcuts, should. And those are just two of many titles and websites that Schmidt references and recommends. Any teacher who has not read vignettes about teachers like Barbara Henry who taught Ruby Bridges, and Bill Coate, who is known for his graveyard histories should. And Schmidt includes those and several other equally inspiring stories in this book. For me, these were the highlights of the book. Some of them were new to me, others were inspiring rereads.
Who is a good audience for this book? The classrooms and teacher vignettes are predominantly elementary school settings. Many of the classroom practices are creative and fun but are definitely focused for elementary school learners. So perhaps elementary school teachers more so than high school, but even as a high school teacher, I gained some new inspiration and ideas for my classroom. The book is also helpful as a "works cited" resource for other good reading for any level of classroom teacher.